Iraq Gov't May Reinstate Saddam Backers

Iraqis celebrate the death sentence verdict for former leader Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006. Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to hang, as the visibly shaken former leader shouted, "God is great!" (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
A day after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to hang, the Shiite-dominated government offered a major concession Monday to his Sunni backers that could see thousands of members of the ousted dictator's Baath party reinstated in their jobs.

With a tight curfew holding down violence after Saddam's guilty verdict and death sentence, the government reached out to disaffected Sunnis in hopes of enticing them away from the insurgency, which has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and is responsible for the vast majority of U.S. casualties.

The U.S. military announced the deaths of five more American troops, two in a helicopter crash north of Baghdad and three in fighting west of the capital. The deaths raised to 18 the number of U.S. forces killed in the first six days of November.

Relentless sectarian killings also persisted despite the extraordinary security precautions. Fifty-nine bodies were discovered Sunday and Monday across Iraq, police said. But with no surge in violence, authorities were gradually lifting the restrictions in Baghdad and two restive Sunni provinces: Pedestrians were allowed back on the capital's streets late Monday afternoon, and the international airport was to reopen Tuesday morning.

See photos from inside and outside the courtroom.
Around the country, jubilant Shiites celebrated verdict on Saddam's trialwhile Sunnis held defiant counter-demonstrations.

Shiites and their leaders are anxious to see Saddam executed quickly. His lawyers are appealing but many here expect the government will try to speed up that process, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

If they succeed, it could be only a few months before Saddam Hussein is led from his prison cell and hanged by the neck.

In other developments:

  • A Marine pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the case of an Iraqi civilian who other servicemen said was kidnapped and killed by members of the squad. Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, 23, was the third serviceman to plead guilty to reduced charges in return for his testimony. A Navy medic and one other Marine previously pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified about the killing of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad last April in the town of Hamdania.
  • The families of two British soldiers killed in Iraq are trying to persuade British judges to order a public inquiry into the legality of the war. The families say their sons were sent to Iraq on the basis of flawed legal advice. A judge on Britain's High Court last year dismissed the families' demand for an inquiry, but the Court of Appeal has ruled they can challenge the ruling. The families contend Britain has an implied obligation to hold an independent inquiry under Article Two of the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects the "right to life."
  • It appears the White House will be looking for a new ambassador to Iraq. A senior Bush administration official says the current ambassador will be quitting soon. Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to take a job either in the academic world or in the private sector. Exactly when he'll leave isn't clear, but the official says he will likely stay through the spring.
  • Two Marines and one soldier died in fighting in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the military said. The Marines were assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 and the soldier was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, a brief statement said.
  • Two more soldiers died in a helicopter crash early Monday in Salahuddin province, which includes Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, another statement said. No gunfire was observed in the area at the time of the crash, which was being investigated, it said. Those soldiers were members of Task Force Lightning, attached to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, the military said. The deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to 18.
  • Still missing was a U.S. soldier kidnapped last month in Baghdad, and the man's Iraqi uncle said Monday he believed his nephew's abductors belong to a "well organized" rogue cell from the Shiite Mahdi Army militia of the anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Entifadh Qanbar, the uncle, said he had received a $250,000-ransom demand from the kidnappers, through an intermediary. He had in turn demanded proof that his nephew was alive and well before entering negotiations.
  • House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra criticized the Bush administration today for its handling of once-secret documents from Saddam Hussein's covert nuclear program disclosed on a federal Web site. The Republican complained the U.S. intelligence community hadn't properly declassified the documents. He told CNN's "Late Edition" that his committee would review the documents to determine the former Iraqi leader's goals and capabilities before the war.